Week 3 Waiver-Wire Pickups: Sleepers Available in Majority of Fantasy Leagues

Jake RillSenior Writer ISeptember 23, 2020

Denver Broncos wide receiver KJ Hamler (13) takes part in drills during an NFL football practice in empty Empower Field at Mile High Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

It was a bad weekend for some fantasy football managers out there.

If you had New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (torn ACL), you're now without your top draft pick for the rest of the season. If you used your top pick on Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (high ankle sprain), you'll be without your best player for a month or more.

There was probably a ton of activity on your league's waiver wire heading into Wednesday, too. Managers were probably scrambling to pick up Mike Davis, who will likely be the Panthers' lead back in McCaffrey's absence, or Devonta Freeman, who signed with the Giants and could take over Barkley's role soon enough.

But maybe you didn't have a high waiver priority or didn't want to spend the high cost from your free-agent acquisition budget to acquire one of those fill-in players. That's OK, too. Because there are still going to be some sleepers who will be available in many leagues and can be plugged into lineups to keep your team afloat. The fantasy football season isn't over for McCaffrey or Barkley managers.

Here's a look at several sleeper options who have a solid chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

     

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Frank Gore, RB, New York Jets

Adam Hunger/Associated Press

It's 2020, and Gore is now 37. This isn't a long-term play or a high-ceiling one. But if you're in desperate need of a sleeper running back the next few weeks, the opportunity is going to be there for Gore to put up some fantasy points at what should be a reliable rate.

The Jets placed top running back Le'Veon Bell on injured reserve with a hamstring injury last week, so the starting job should be Gore's again for the next two weeks. This past Sunday, he got a lot of touches, carrying the ball 21 times, but he had only 63 yards on them. However, that was a difficult matchup against the 49ers, so he should put up better numbers with that workload moving forward.

New York is also without top wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), so it may need to stick with the running game this week against Indianapolis. Last week, the Colts gave up 63 yards and a touchdown to Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, but Minnesota had to pass once it fell behind. So, while Indianapolis' run defense numbers are strong so far, Gore could amass some yards if he gets a high volume of carries.

And that shouldn't be an issue with the Jets' current state. Don't give up a lot to get Gore, but if you need somebody to make up for the loss of an injured running back for a couple weeks, the 16-year veteran should be a safe, reliable choice.

     

KJ Hamler, WR, Denver Broncos

Now here's a waiver-wire sleeper who you may have to be patient with. If you're looking for a wide receiver to immediately plug into your lineup this week, Hamler may not be the one for you. But there's certainly going to be potential for him to have a breakout role in the Broncos offense down the line.

Denver's top wide receiver, Courtland Sutton, is out for the season with a torn ACL. That's going to increase the opportunity for rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and several others, including fellow rookie Hamler, who had three receptions for 48 yards at Pittsburgh last week but was targeted seven times.

It may take a few weeks for Hamler to put up starting-worthy fantasy numbers. A big reason for that is because Broncos starting quarterback Drew Lock is going to miss a few weeks because of a rotator cuff strain in his right shoulder. That means it will likely be Jeff Driskel leading Denver's offense in the short term.

Driskel isn't the worst option, but he's not going to help the Broncos playmakers put up huge stats. But stay patient and hold on to Hamler until Lock returns, because he could quickly develop into a favorite target of his along with Jeudy later in the season.

    

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

The Colts are losing offensive playmakers left and right. Running back Marlon Mack is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Wide receiver Parris Campbell went on injured reserve with a left knee injury, while tight end Jack Doyle is out with knee and ankle injuries.

T.Y. Hilton can't catch every pass from quarterback Philip Rivers, so there are going to have to be some other receivers who step up. And one of those could be Pittman, a rookie who Indianapolis took in the second round out of USC.

Through two weeks, Pittman has six receptions for 47 yards and has yet to get into the end zone. However, he's getting experience at the NFL level, and the opportunities are going to be greater in the weeks to come, especially as he develops more of a connection with Rivers.

Pittman has breakout potential in Week 3 as the Colts have a great matchup against the Jets. It'd be a bit of a risk to play the 22-year-old on Sunday, but he could potentially reward you with a big game. And if he does, don't be surprised if he carries that into future weeks and becomes a stronger fantasy option later on.